HARRIS ACADEMY IN BELMONT OPENED

On 8 October we both attended the opening of the new Harris Academy secondary school in Belmont. We were very impressed by the school, which is already vastly over-subscribed. We recollect the fuss and opposition when building a school on this site was first proposed. Quite a few of our residents in Sutton South Ward now have children at this school. ~It was opened by the broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili.

Jim Al-Khalili, third from left, opens the school

NO-ONE HURT IN FIRE AT SUTTON COURT

Richard and Trish visited Sutton Court, one of the largest estates in our Ward, having learned of a fire in a flat at the block. We spoke to the next door neighbour, who lives in the flat opposite on the top floor of their block. She had been concerned at the fire but we are all relieved that no-one was hurt and the damage confined to a single flat.

SORTING OUT THE STATION

The work involved in repairing a major electricity cable has caused real problems outside Sutton station and the closure of a bus stop. Trish and Richard had to intervene when the pavement was shut and no walkway established, so people were walking in the road. Eventually we got a walkway put in.

ANY IDEAS ON UPGRADING THE PATH AT THE END OF UPLAND ROAD?

On 5 September Richard was one of a group of officers and Councillors that inspected the short footpath that leads from Upland Road to Banstead Road South. Some residents have asked if the footpath could be upgraded, but the question is – exactly what could be done?

While we were there a team of contractors arrived and undertook the work we had requested to cut back the overgrowing vegetation along the side of the path and tidy it up. It looks better now.

The surface of the path is in reasonable condition for a footpath. There are two lamp standards and we hope to get the trees – which are in the gardens of private houses – that partly shade the lights trimmed back. The fencing along the path is mostly in good condition.

At present the path is a footpath and cyclists are expected to dismount. It would be possible to make it dual use. It is straight, so when entering the footpath at one end you can see if anyone is on the path for the whole length of the path. Assuming people are sensible and a cyclist who encountered a pedestrian on the path would proceed with caution, it would be possible to allow cyclists to use it. Officers are to take some measurements and assess the possibilities.

We would like to know your opinion on these possibilities, and how the path might be spruced up.

ARE THE BOUNDARIES OF OUR WARD RIGHT?

Are the boundaries of Sutton South Ward right?

The Boundary Commission is reviewing the boundaries of the local Government Wards in Sutton prior to the next local elections in 2022. You can write to the Commission if you think the boundaries are not right.

The Ward runs from Sutton station in the north to Devonshire Road in the south, Banstead Road South in the east, Overton Road in the west. It is mostly a Ward of residential roads with three schools, one small park, three places of worship, split into three parts by Langley Park Road and Brighton Road running north-south. Should the boundaries change?

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking local people for their help to draw up a new pattern of council wards for Sutton Council.

The consultation is the first part of an electoral review which will re-draw ward boundaries across the council.

The Commission has also announced that Sutton should have 54 councillors in future: no change from the current arrangements.

In drawing up new boundaries, the Commission aims to deliver electoral equality for voters in council elections so that each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters. The review also aims to ensure that the new council wards reflect, as far as possible, the interests and identities of communities across Sutton.

Professor Colin Mellors, Chair of the Commission, said: “We are asking local people and organisations to help us draw up new wards for Sutton. As we develop the recommendations, we will take into account local community identities as well as ensuring electoral equality for voters. 

“If you have a view about which communities or neighbourhoods should be part of the same council ward, then we want to hear from you. And if you think a road, river or railway makes for a strong boundary between communities in your part of Sutton, then this consultation is for you. 

“If you’re interested in the way the council is run, just log on to our website to explore our interactive maps and have your say. We will carefully consider all evidence that is provided during this phase of the review, whoever it is from and whether it applies to the whole of Sutton or just a small part of the borough.

“Residents will then have a further chance to have their say after we publish our draft recommendations in January 2020”.

Local people can submit their views in this consultation. Further information on the review and interactive maps of the existing wards can be found at

consultation.lgbce.org.uk and www.lgbce.org.uk

GO SUTTON BUS AREA EXTENDED

The Go Sutton bus trial is attracting a lot of attention. Information is at www.gosutton.co.uk.

The year-long trial for this on-demand bus service has had positive feedback and is being extended to cover the area shown on the map. Register online and phone when you want to use the bus. It is £3.50 (plus additional passengers at £2) but free if you have a Freedom Pass, like Richard.

IMPROVING TRANSPORT AND PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

Trish on an e-bike

We remain committed to delivering an e-bike scheme in Sutton.

The Council has been partnering with Lime on a 12 months trial for a dockless e-bike scheme. Sadly this scheme has now foundered as Lime have withdrawn – we guess it did not prove profitable. The Council is in discussion with other potential providers.

Electric bikes give you a little boost when you start to pedal and when you go uphill. This normally helps less confident cyclists.

The new on-demand bus service for Sutton is proving very popular. Find out more at www.gosutton.co.uk



“SUTTON SOUTH IS A GOOD PLACE TO LIVE” RICHARD TELLS THE COUNCIL

At the July Council meeting Richard spoke to Councillors about what residents told him were the attractions of Sutton South. In a debate on the special character of Sutton he said the green, pleasant atmosphere of the Ward was carefully nutured by Sutton Council but threatened by the decisions of the remote Planning Inspectorate, unaccountable to local people. Here is the text of his speech:

“In my Ward, the planning polices of the Council have undoubtedly been highly successful in preserving the pleasant, green, suburban feel of the Ward. Residents I talk to who have moved to Sutton South from other parts of London often comment on the attractions of the area – low crime, good schools, a pleasant, green, suburban atmosphere, close to the country, close to central London. There has of course been new development over the years but the quality of what has been built has generally been of a high standard.

“A pleasant, green, suburban feel in our Ward”

But I could take you on a tour of the Ward to look at developments that I am less happy with, one of them (Northumberland House) a development that exploited the Government’s “prior approval” arrangements to avoid planning controls, but al the others developments turned down by Sutton Council but then approved on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate. Some of these have been highly regrettable decisions, particularly in terms of design and overdevelopment of sometimes very small sites.

Before I became a Councillor I used to think there was a case for a body like the Planning Inspectorate as, surely, there were all these Councils up and down the country taking idiosyncratic decisions based on wildly varying local circumstances and this central body would impose some consistency of standard. What I in fact observe though is the complete opposite – it is the Inspectors whose decisions seem arbitrary, idiosyncratic, mercurial and lacking consistency, while the Council is imposing a consistent standard at a level based on extensive consultation to establish what is expected by local people.

I think our planners are doing a good job, but there is a case for wider reform of the planning system at a national level to protect the democracy of local decision-taking.”  

CONCERN OVER PLANNING APPLICATION IN COPSE HILL

Dunsfold Court in Blackbush Close is opposite the site and residents already say it is difficult to find a parking space

Richard and Trish have major concerns about a planning application
DM2019/00925 for a site that includes numbers 2 and 4 Copse Hill plus an adjacent block at 52-54 Brighton Road. The application proposes over-intensive development of the site, to erect a block of flats with 65 flats. We consider this overdevelopment of the site, incongruous in the local context and likely to cause unacceptable problems relating to parking in the area, with an inadequate number of parking places proposed for 65 flats in an area that already has a shortage of parking spaces.

The process with this application is that planning officers will consider it and may reject it on the basis of local planning policies. If not, we have arranged for it to be considered by Councillors at Planning Committee. This will give us opportunity, as Councillors, to voice our opposition and will also give representatives of residents an opportunity to speak. If the application is rejected by Sutton Council the developer has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate and we cannot control that part of the process.


The site of the proposed block, viewed from Brighton Road